Yesterday in our staff meeting, we talked about helping our students to be grateful.  Our theme for this month at our school is going to be gratitude and kindness. I talked to my students and asked them what they thought “gratitude” meant.  One of them said “well it must mean attitude because it sounds like attitude.”

Funny how wise that student was being- that student that I was frustrated with-reminded me that if I started being grateful, then my attitude would change for the better!

So we made a little chant and hung it up on the wall.  “Gratitude helps us have the right attitude!”

Stay tuned for Satisfied Saturdays where we think about being grateful for what we have.  So many times, we want more than we have or we wish we were in a different stage in life, but I’m confident that focusing on being thankful will help us all be more satisfied with where we are.

My reason to be thankful for today is that I have an awesome school team who understands that it’s the little things in life that matter.  One of my students was having a hard day, and my teammate motivated her with a special treat.  Can you guess what it was???

That special motivator was………..a pencil-just a normal blue mechanical pencil-yep.that’s right-a pencil!  This student got SOO excited when my coworker said “Ok if you have a good day, you can use my mechanical pencil.”   It made me laugh, but also reminded me that the little things really are important:).

Monday Moment of Joy i.e. Meltdowns, Movies and Munchies

So, I’ve decided that’s my new motto for the last week before any holiday break! “Meltdowns, Movies and Munchies” Today there were some moments of joy but it kind of felt like a full day meltdown.

It’s just so hard to keep the schedule normal-which is what many of my students need-on the week before break. Now, I love all those Christmas parties. I love those Christmas themed Language Arts and Math lessons that you can find on TeachersPayTeachers (or all those ones that you used to create on your own in the olden days:). These changes in schedule and routines, however, wreak havoc on my students who thrive on structure. I’m sure I’ll get to teach a lot of flexibility lessons this week. I usually plan calm activities in my room so that if students need a break from all the concerts and cookie baking and ornament making, they can come have some down time in my room. Today we joked and said “let’s just watch movies and eat popcorn all week!” So, there came my motto: Meltdowns, Movies and Munchies (and maybe the teachers will even let the kids come join us!:)

But, let’s get back to that moment of joy! I am so thankful for the teaching assistants that work with me. Today, as I watched one of them, I realized that many days, my joy comes from seeing her interact with the students. She knows how to push them to be the very best they can be, but she is also flexible and patient and knows when to just stop and laugh about the situation. Today, I was mentally exhausted at 1:00, and yet when I watched her interact with students, she was able to smile and keep listening and encouraging them. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t finished her Christmas shopping or that she had a million things going on at home, she left all that at home and engaged with her students in the moment.

So, my prayer for this week is that I can portray peace in moments of chaos, and that I can purposefully engage with my students in the moment. Then, maybe I won’t need as many movies or munchies to calm those meltdowns:).

Thanksgiving and Joy Rekindled

Here we are on Saturday night after some nice long days of rest and relaxation and family (and lots of turkey and stuffing). Is it really almost over? Do I have to go back to work on Monday? Can I please sleep in some more and pretend that the real world doesn’t exist? But now I remember those precious students God has put in my care. I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful for the way God has led me to stay at the same school for almost 15 years. I’ve gotten to know many students and families over those years. One benefit to teaching special ed (besides all that “wonderful” paperwork”:) is that many times I have students for several years in a row. I get to know the students and their families well. As I look back, I’m thankful for those good times and those hard times that we’ve walked through together. Do I want to go back and prepare for more principal observations or other schools coming in to see our new programs? Nope-I don’t. I’d rather just teach!

I dream of regular and consistent planning time. I dream of uninterrupted instructional time with students so that they have time to learn and apply new skills. I dream of students who come to school well-fed, well-rested, and ready to learn. I dream of being able to actually use all those great brain based learning strategies instead of prepping students for a test. I dream of time to collaborate with other teachers. I dream of a school and a world where all people are respected regardless of their disability. I dream of a world where people are noticed for their strengths. I dream of a world where neurodiversity is accepted and celebrated instead of torn down. I dream of teaching.

But now we’re heading into a new week. Although I don’t enjoy all that paperwork, and I don’t enjoy spending hours of my “free” time planning, I know that God is in control. A week of being away from the daily grind has reminded me that He’s got a plan. Even when I miss my planning for the fourth time in a week or even when I have to re-do another rating document (just to show for the fifth time that my kids have made progress on that skill) or even when I have to spend an extra hour on every single IEP because the computer program is less user friendly than it used to be, I can trust that God has a plan. He has put those students and families and coworkers on my path for a reason. It’s not just about teaching the content. It’s about sharing His love and His joy with those that He has put on my path. Today I am thankful for my job and thankful for time off that has allowed me to have that joy in teaching rekindled.